East Frankish Kgd.

The Ottonians 919-1024

In 918, Henry Duke of Saxony was elected king HENRY I., beginning the line of Saxon kings, also called Ottonians after the name of three of them. Henry signed a treaty with the Magyars, assuring them an annual tribute. The kingdom, for a number of years, was safe from their raids; in the meantime, preparations for the future were made by continuing with the construction of city walls, castles and churches (many of which could also serve military purpose) and noblemen were requested to hold horses and train them for combat; the consumption of horse and dog meat was outlawed.
Under Henry's successor, OTTO I., the treaty with the Magyars was not extended and in 954 the Hungarians came again; in 955 they were defeated in the BATTLE OF LECHFELD. It was a decisive defeat, the Hungarians never came back.

In 966, Otto I. acquired the crown of the KINGDOM OF ITALY (i.e. the former Lombard kingdom covering northern Italy); Bohemia accepted the sovereignty of the Emperor, and border marches were established east of the Elbe river, in Austria and CARNIOLA. For the mission of the pagan lands east of the Elbe the new ARCHDIOCESIS OF MAGDEBURG was founded in 968. The Archdiocesis of Bremen planned to expand into pagan Scandinavia, the Archdiocesis of Salzburg into pagan Hungary.
The Saxon kings entrusted state administration to clerics rather than to secular noblemen. Clergymen, abbots, but predominantly bishops, had expertise in administration, but as they had to live celibate, had no sons and therefore no dynastic interests which might interfere with those of the state. The kings therefore undertook steps to ensure that their candidates were elected bishop if such a position became vacant (National Church System). The kings endowed the bishoprics with rich lands, thus laying the foundation of later prince-bishoprics.
Otto II. pursued the plan of reconstructing his Empire, under the slogan RENOVATIO IMPERII - he wanted to reestablish the Roman Empire in more than name only. His ambitious plans were ended with his early death.

Roman Kings of the Saxon Dynasty, 918-1024
Henry I.
Otto I.
Otto II.
Otto III.
Henry II.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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